Serial rapist arrested, testing backlogged rape kits key to charges

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Racine man is behind bars, linked to four sexual assaults in Kenosha and Racine Counties.

The cases against him were cold, until the state's efforts to test backlogged sexual assault kits got a hit.

Matthew Crockett is charged with committing two sexual assault in Kenosha in 2014 and 2015.

In both cases, police said he dragged his victims into a car and raped them.

Until now, he's walked free.

"You think what cases the public fears, its walking down the street and having a stranger grab them and sexually assault them," said Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley.

Matthew Crockett is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Kenosha.

Police said he grabbed the first woman in 2014. She was walking in the neighborhood near 23rd and 61st. Police said Crockett pulled her into his car and raped her.

The second assault occurred in 2015. A woman was walking home from the Kenosha Jobs Center. She told police she heard a car running near the railroad tracks, was grabbed from behind, and raped in the back seat.

"These are the cases that are really a community's nightmare," said Graveley.

Graveley said the cases went cold because the victims could not identify their attacker. But after the state tested the sexual assault kits, it found four linked to the same DNA profile. There was a problem though, the DNA didn't match any in the state's database.

"By testing these kits, there have been cases where foreign DNA was found that hadn't previously been," said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

State agents hired a lab that took the DNA profile and used Familytreedna.com to look for relatives of the suspect. They got a hit. Then police pulled trash from Crockett's Racine home and tested that. It was a match.

"It's critically important that we do it, because as this case shows, identifying people who in this case is alleged to have engaged in multiple offenses and helping give justice to multiple survivors," said Kaul.

The state said its testing nearly 5,000 of the 7,000 untested sexual assault kits.

Kaul said state law doesn't require police departments to send sex assault kits to the state crime lab.

He's trying to make it one.

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